Posted by Charles Brown at Monday, October 02, 2006
Did you know that there is a single food item that tastes great, is packed with vitamins and nutrients, and that eating this food three times a day will cause you to shed weight at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds a week? And if all this were not enough, this same food provides so many other health benefits that it can literally add years to your life?
So what is this wonderful food? -------------------- It is the apple.
OK, by now you are thinking, “what does this story about the apple have to do with being a freelance copywriter?
Everything! The first job of your copy is to grab a reader’s attention and hold on to it until that person has read every last word of your advertisement, web content or direct mail piece.
So I ask you, did that piece about the apple hold your attention? Were you hanging on until the last word so you could find out what food item provided all those benefits? Or were you about to lose interest and stop reading before you got to the last word?
Curiosity, when it is combined with powerful self-interest benefits, is an irresistible attention grabbing device.
But what if I had not held back on the identity of the food item until the end? What if the piece had begun with the words, “the apple can do many things for your body …?” Even though the benefits would have been the same, the hold it had on you would not.
I call this technique of arousing curiosity by listing the benefits before identifying the subject, the “Cart Before The Horse” technique. And it is very easy to do. Just reveal one benefit after another, but hold back the crucial identifying piece of information until the very end.
You can also use a string of negatives or warnings just as easily. Here is an example:
Many companies lose thousands, and possibly millions, of dollars by making a very easily corrected mistake on their websites. This one mistake insures that their sites lose countless dollars in lost revenues, prevents them from ever achieving high levels of traffic and almost guarantees that their visitors will buy from someone else.
And if all this were not bad enough, the cost to fix this single mistake is ridiculously small, and if corrected, will produce an almost immediate surge in new sales. (By the way, I hope I haven’t lost your interest yet. Do you want me to go on? OK.)
What is this one mistake that costs companies so much money? It is the failure to use their sites to capture opt-in email subscribers who give their permission to receive follow up email messages.
Implementing the “Cart Before The Horse Technique” is extremely easy. Start with the six words, “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” to write a rough draft. Then decide which of those six elements will arouse the most curiosity and self interest if withheld until the end.
Once you have done this, you are free to torment (I mean “keep in suspense”) your readers until the very last word.